City Paper is not for tourists
Columbia Heights is the midst of a boom. At the Target, a lot of shelves are empty. This can only mean that people are buying stuff. New restaurants have opened up in recent months (a gastropub, a pretty great pizza place, the now ubiquitous Five Guys). Foot traffic has increased, etc. Its main drag may still be ugly as hell but it has more activity.
This is all to say that I expected much more from Columbia Heights Day. This is why I must respectfully disagree with Prince of Petworth‘s assessment (“Columbia Heights Day — Good Times“). I hate to go negative on an event that’s just two years old. But C’mon! This did not feel like a celebration. It felt like a wake inside a Peckinpah film.
Full disclosure No. 1: I did not get to see the cupcake eating contest. Full Disclosure No. 2: I half expected rides. If you thought I was not exactly the CHD’s demo, you would be wrong (the cupcakes were vegan). The big disappointment is that the boring i.e. political outnumbered the fun. There was allegedly face painting (didn’t see it). There was a petting zoo (pretty cool, admittedly, but inferior to any county fair). And there was a moon bounce (smaller or same size of moon bounces found at any block party). The rest of the attractions for your CHD: Jim Graham and Patrick Mara (at least when I was there in the afternoon).
Kids of all ages do not find Jim Graham or Patrick Mara (I’m guessing here since he’s a newbie) entertaining. They attend these events because that’s where voters are—they shake hands, look “real” or “casual,” and pass out pamphlets that will promptly get deposited in the nearest trash can (not nearly enough at CHD).
Two things lacking to CHD that would have made CHD endurable: a well-kept field and festival food. By the time we got there, food consisted of dueling snowball makers and small samples of chips and runny guac. All this no food/no fun was held on a dirt field on the grounds of Harriet Tubman Elementary School at 11th and Kenyon Streets NW. The bands—not worth mentioning. I’m sorry but a guy noodling on a guitar like he’s opening for Merzbow doesn’t count.
Next time, organizers should block off some streets, take over a real field, and get some meat on a stick.
*photo courtesy of Prince of Petworth.